After being in school all day, Hugh and Malcolm rush home to get on Facebook and carry on yet more important social interactions with their friends.

Scintillating conversations like “Take this down,” and “Jk haha” and “no duh” can occupy hours.   My favorite line from one of Hugh’s friends, after a string of stupid comments and obscenities from the posse, was “Yo dudes, my mom is on here.  Cut it out.”

For once, I was not the mom being referenced!  Another kid’s mom had been friended by her son!  And was watching!  Chalk one up for the parents.

Recently, while scanning Malcolm’s latest FB hijinks, I saw that he had taken one of the many fascinating and highly accurate quizzes available, and learned that he was to marry a girl we shall call Esmeralda.  This is a real person from his school, a member of his friend list.

Immediately his guy friends piled on, making scathing comments about Esmeralda, her weight, her appetite, her undesirability.  Appalled, I ordered Malcolm to remove the entire thread.  Canyou imagine how devastating it would be for the poor girl in question to see that?  I hated having boys tease me in the hallways at school – but those were fleeting and unrecorded moments.  With Facebook, insults and mockery are now shared with the entire Facebook friends community, witnessed by hundreds or thousands of jeering onlookers.

Despite protests that the whole thing was a joke, he did as I commanded.  When I left the room,  he unfriended me.  It took no time to figure that out, and I insisted on immediate reinstatement. 

Times have changed.  When I was 12 and wanted to know who I would spend my life with, I’d go find my friend Karen.  She was a wizard at folding paper into those pointy origami Cootie Catchers which foretold the future with messages like “You will marry someone really gross.”  Or we used a Ouija board or a Magic 8 Ball.  The fascination has always been there.  Only the technology has changed.

One of Chris’s friends from college (a real friend, not a FB one) recently sent a conversation that his teenage son had conducted on FB, while using his dad’s computer.  The kid forgot to sign out, so the dad saw the whole thing, and saved it.  He said “At first I thought it was poetry.”  It did look like that – a long series of short, ragged lines.

In their shorthand, these two boys had carried out a complex discussion about a girl.  The chat began in a friendly way until it became clear that both boys liked the girl, began fighting over who was more worthy, hurled insults back and forth, decided she wasn’t worth ruining their friendship over, and patched it up with a “pfff, k man” and a “sall good.  see u @ lnch.”  It’s time-stamped, so you can see that the entire drama took 20 minutes of constant typing.

 The coup de grace was an good natured, joking obscenity against their former dream girl, who had done nothing to deserve the insult except inadvertently cause them to fight.

On another level, this provided a glimpse into Planet Guy.  I have to admire the economy of emotion and the ability to quickly recover from a feud.

As I said here a couple of days ago, Facebook is the new agora of adolescence.   Dramas great and small are played out in this highly public marketplace.  It’s mostly all in fun, but when it’s not, it’s awful.

We should all be watching what our kids are saying, and what is being said about them, on the screen.

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